I was in the Army when we made the transition from an military force based upon drafting able bodied men and women to serve, to an all volunteer force. I was against this move. However, politics and a knee jerk reaction by those who were against the Vietnam War led to the elimination of the draft. This was the wrong decision forced upon our military.
A calling to the nation's defense is the first responsibility of all American citizens since Bunker Hill.
Today, the military service hand picks those who will serve using criteria that set a high bar for entrance. That is good. The down side is many of our youth now consider service to the nation as secondary to their personal aggrandizement. Today's youth take advantage of the freedoms and liberties protected by our military. The American youth have no sense of service above ones' self. They have no skin in the game, so they play war games on their Wii and X-Boxes, when a real war is raging overseas and in the homeland. While our soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are going to the mall. Sad but true.
Here are the three reasons why I believe we must reinstate the draft and compulsory military service for all Americans:
- America and the American dream are based upon sacrifice in service to the nation. Other countries understand that service above one's self interests creates a bond between the individual and the America whose bounty gives so much to so many from so few. Today less than one-percent of all Americans serve in our uniformed services. This one-percent is defending with their lives the other ninety-nine percent. That is not what being an American is all about. Service to protect and defend this nation is part and parcel of being an American citizen. Our military takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Until you raise your right hand and so swear you will not understand what service really means. The military instills a sense of duty, honor and country in all who serve.
- The military creates an understanding of team work, loyalty to ones comrades, and leadership. Few other organizations can make the same claim. Unlike the private sector, pledging one's life to be part of an elite group of military men and women transcends the ordinary world of work. However, leadership skill sets learn in the military easily transfer to the private sector and enhance the overall quality of our workforce and work place. Core values like showing up to work on time, dressing properly and addressing your superiors in a respectful manner are instilled during military training. While the American military has rules it also encourages independent decision making in the face of danger. Soldiers learn how to think on their feet. Something sorely lacking today.
- Finally, the military provides training in a vast variety of careers. From driving a truck to flying billion dollar aircraft. From being a medic to commanding a hospital. Job expertise of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines makes a difference in the workforce. The technical job skills learned as a baker, butcher, or candlestick maker carry over to our businesses with the added bonus of free on-the-job training provided by our military. A win-win for our society.
As Dan Senor, author of Startup Nation, points out it is Israel's compulsory military service that in large part has led to it being a startup nation. Everyone in Israel serves and has directly led to it being so successful and having so many entrepreneurs. As Dan points out it is the military experiences of Israeli youth that solidifies the idea that, " Israel is not just a country, but a comprehensive state of mind." That is what compulsory military service does, it creates a "comprehensive state of mind" that serves that nation well.
Time to reinstate compulsory military service in America and regain that which has been lost - our collective comprehensive state of mind.